A mandatory negotiation period between landlords and commercial tenants is one staple of a plan unveiled Monday by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to save the city’s mom-and-pops.
The landlord would have to contact the store owner 180 days before the end of the lease to inform them if they intend to offer a renewal, according to legislation touted in Brewer’s “Small Business Big Impact” report.
“This ensures an honest conversation takes place,” she said at a news conference at Halal Guys’ Upper West Side location.
The report laid out a set of recommendations and proposals that would prevent small business owners from being priced out of the city. Under the proposed bill Brewer and Councilman Robert Cornegy are drafting, the two parties can then seek negotiation and, if necessary, mediation to come to terms.
If the landlord and store owner can’t come to an agreement, the tenant’s lease will be extended for a year with a maximum 15% rent increase, which would give the store owner time to look for a new location.
Brewer said the proposal is different from the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which has been lingering in the City Council for decades. The legislation would make the negotiation period mandatory and won’t stipulate a 10-year minimum lease.
Frank Ricci, director of government affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association, who has been against the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, said Brewer’s option is just as bad because it doesn’t help landlords deal with higher taxes and other costs.
“It gives more leverage to a business that may or may not have viability. It keeps them open a year a two at the expense of the owner,” he said.
Other proposals in the report include updating street vendor regulations, a proposal that allows store owners to buy their space as a commercial condo and the creation of “low-intensity” commercial districts.
Brewer said she will continue to fine-tune her recommendations and offered New Yorkers the chance to weigh in at a series of roundtable discussions. The first meeting is scheduled for May 6.
The borough president said she, like other New Yorkers, is tired of seeing her favorite staples close without notice.
“They are the soul of the neighborhood,” she said. “We need storefonters as much as much as they need us.”